Thursday, July 20, 2006

Our Annoying Civic Duty

July 20, 1907
Los Angeles

The court summoned 80 prospective jurors to decide the case of Dr. Chan, who was accused of practicing medicine without a license, but more than half asked Judge Rose to be excused from service.

“An officer was sent out with the summonses yesterday morning. He had not been at work more than an hour when the first indignant citizen appeared in court and demanded to be released from jury duty on the ground that his wife was ill and he had to go home several times a day,” The Times said.

“Another businessman said that he hated the whole Chinese race and that he wouldn’t give any of them a fair trial.”

Although the court agreed to excuse the head of a local bank, many other people were told they had to serve.

On July 26, The Times reported that the court was still trying to seat a jury in the Chan case, having called 620 prospective jurors, a Police Court record. By July 30, 780 people had been called before a 12th juror was selected.

Chan was convicted and fined $250. The Times said: “Other Chinese cases now pending may require the next two years in trial since it is almost impossible to secure and unprejudiced jury.”

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